At least that’s been my experience.
After years as a boss, having worked with somewhere close to 1000 employees over that time, it’s hard not to notice. Men tend to ask for what they want – and women don’t.
I am specifically referring to things like raises, bonuses, and promotions. Of course there are exceptions to this. Every now and then I meet women who know exactly what they want and have no qualms about asking. They are rare and often have strong executive (usually male) mentors. Men, on the other hand – well as a general rule, they ask.
Now, I’m not saying they get everything they ask for – or even any of it.
Nor do I believe that it’s the norm for anyone (male or female) to get something undeserved just because they ask.
But the men that worked for me (yes, I’m generalizing) kept a drumbeat going all year long so that I knew their expectations. For some it was once a week, for others once a quarter was enough. I’m not suggesting that they were unreasonable. They simply made a point of – well, pointing it out.
The women more frequently believed that they would get what they deserve; their boss should notice their great contributions and reward them accordingly. They expected their boss to be fair. Again, not unreasonable.
Does it matter? Consider this:
If a boss has an extra $50 he can give to an employee for salary increases once he’s done due diligence and been equitable, who might get it? The person who made it clear that they expect more than 1% this year, or the one who said nothing? It may not seem like much, but it adds up over time.
Or there’s a job opening up. It might be a promotion or it might just be a great opportunity. The boss can put only one name on the slate. Will it be Jack, who’s made it clear he wants an opportunity, or Jane, who never asked? Jane is happy where she is, and Jack will be happy for the opportunity. It’s a win-win, right?
I think it does matter. If you’re not convinced, read the Carnegie-Mellon experiment noted in this Washington Post article by Shankar Vedantam.
What is your experience? Do you ask?